Tag Archives: crime drama

Book Review: Crime Mystery The Appeal by Janice Hallett @atriabooks @atriamysterybus

I’ve read several books this month (see my note at end of post) so I’m off to a good start meeting new goals. I decided to begin book reviews this year with The Appeal by Janice Hallett, a crime mystery drama, because it was released in hardcover yesterday in the US from Atria books! 


The Appeal
by Janice Hallett

UK pub 01/14/21 and 07/01/21 Viper
US pub 01/25/22 Atria (hardcover)

Summary, Per UK Publisher –
(because I like this one better!)


Dear Reader,

Enclosed are documents relating to the events surrounding the Fairway Players’ staging of All My Sons, and the tragic death of one of its members. Another member is currently in prison for the crime. We have reason to suspect that they are innocent, and that there were far darker secrets that have yet to be revealed.

We believe that the killer has given themselves away. It’s there in writing, hidden in the emails, texts, and letters. In the events surrounding the charity appeal for little Poppy Reswick, and the question of whether that money was truly being used to fund her life-saving cancer treatment. Will you accept the challenge? Can you uncover the truth? Do you dare?

The standout debut thriller of 2021 that delivers multiple brilliant twists and will change the way you think about the modern crime novel. 


I didn’t know how I’d feel about reading this book when I first started it, given it’s an epistolary novel. I wondered if it would be hard to follow or get lost in as much as I like with regular mysteries and thrillers, but soon enough I was immersed in the story being told through e-mail and other correspondence. It was as if I was a voyeur looking in, or perhaps, an additional solicitor sorting through the evidence along with those on this case (which the novel is framed around). In that regard, it became a fun game, hinging on my already investigative nature, and I was certainly caught up early in what I knew must be a mystery unraveling among a very interesting cast of characters.

We get to know those who feature with the most email correspondence the best – Issy, Sarah, Martin, James. The rest we are only given a view of based off other characters’ feelings (which is biased, of course, when you think about it) – but I did have my own feelings on quite a few of them! I don’t think it would be a read for you if you really love the feeling of being connected to characters. You have to be alright with unreliable characters, which I am, so it worked fine for me.

I mostly became invested instead in wanting to know what was going on with the charity appeal, who was going to be murdered, etc. – I enjoyed “watching” the characters interact within their various social circle hierarchy and trying to understand who might be possibly shady and why. I like suspenseful drama and this book certainly brought that – it’s fitting these characters were part of a community theater. It was hard to tell who was putting on the performances of their lives off the stage and into their emails, too – and as it unraveled, I found myself shaking my head at some of these characters! It also had me as a reader putting clues together and seeing which theory I aligned with, which made it a fun sort of mystery puzzle, which I adore. Hey, I became a lawyer, or detective, for a few days!

As far as any critical notes, about seventy percent into the book the author started a lot of info dumping, under the guise of the solicitors writing their various theories into a report. I wanted to skip much of it since I felt I had already gathered or understood a lot of it myself from the correspondence. I suppose I can understand why it was included, to wrap it up for us, but yet for me I could move past it. I think, in another format, it would have been better set-up as courtroom or dialogue scenario with the characters. Instead, it read like a long report, a legal report, which is how information was passed to the reader due to the epistolary format. That’s why this book would be a great tv show or film. As that it would light up. As the last half of the book went on, it also read as if it was written as a screenplay or stage play and could easily be converted. I’d watch any of the above!

I enjoyed the humor that came in text messages and such from the solicitors and their boss at times. The post-it notes as art on some of the pages was a good touch. The way we really could gather some personalities very well over emails showed excellent character development. There were some red herrings, strategically placed clues, and a twist or reveal that was shocking to an extent (though I had my suspicions!).

If you’re looking for a novel that is a simple mystery crime thriller you want to relax your brain with, this might not be it. Your brain needs to keep track of information in this one, which made it fantastic as far as I’m concerned. If you’re tired, rushed, or stressed, you might not be ready for this, so know yourself and be prepared in that regard.

Overall, a unique, enjoyable read that kept me guessing and thinking, had wit and humor in all the right places, was a study in the social hierarchy construct and its pitfalls, and would make an amazing tv show! It was certainly good enough to garner four stars because it kept me turning pages and wanting to get back to my reading time so I could continue in the drama and unraveling of the mystery. I was guessing some parts right up until the end!

I’ll definitely want to read more from Hallett in the future and look forward to it. I know her next book is available now for UK readers (so those who are my UK subscribers here, go get both!). I look forward to it also arriving in the US.

I thank Atria Books for the advanced copy for book news or review consideration.

Purchase, Read, Borrow –


Barnes & Noble

Amazon US

Amazon UK Paperback

I could not find this book on bookshop.org, though I recommend using it for books to support independent shops, as well as looking at your local indie bookstore (or asking them to order). Ask your local library, too!

Janice Hallett, Biography

Janice Hallett is a former magazine editor, award-winning journalist, and government communications writer. She wrote articles and speeches for, among others, the Cabinet Office, Home Office, and Department for International Development. Her enthusiasm for travel has taken her around the world several times, from Madagascar to the Galapagos, Guatemala to Zimbabwe, Japan, Russia, and South Korea. A playwright and screenwriter, she penned the feminist Shakespearean stage comedy NetherBard and cowrote the feature film Retreat. The Appeal is her first novel. 

Noteworthy Stuff –

For those who love covers like me. UK alternate covers – I LOVE!

Paperback UK
Hardcover UK


Note to my readers: For 2022, I am trying to be more disciplined and cut social media use and other time wasters and instead increase my reading and my own writing again. I’m wholly behind on reviews of the past, especially these last few years, but as a mom who is very hands-on with my kids, a hardworking editor and public relations professional, being an author/writer myself, a cat mom, and maintaining my physical and mental health, I’m pulled in many directions. All I can offer now are my goals that include better reading organization and to not over-think reviews (which ones I do, when, and how). I’ll read what speaks to my mind and I’ll review and write and highlight what I can. I’ve made good progress on this so far, and positive attitudes around me will help that continue.


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Redheads, by Jonathan Moore, is a Debut Novel Packed with Thrilling Suspense, Epic Crime Drama, and a Monstrous Serial Killer

RedheadsRedheads, a debut thriller novel by Jonathan Moore out today (Nov. 5), is going to send shock waves through everyone’s end of the year horror and thriller reading, while continuing to make waves well into 2014. Moore will quickly set himself apart from the masses and delve head first into being a well-known suspense author.

Following a pattern of mainstream writers like James Rollins, Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child, David Morrell, the technical writing know-how of the late great authors Tom Clancy and Michael Crichton, and the CSI prowess of Patricia Cornwell, Moore brings a wealth of detailed information both as far as forensics, criminal activity and behaviors, the NSA, and technological surveillance.  Though I sometimes can get bombarded with too much technical detail that makes me “tune out,” with Moore’s writing I didn’t. He threw in enough paragraphs of emotional turmoil, decisions, romance, and mystery that it all just propelled me forward through the pages with lightening speed.  I must say that Samhain Publishing should have looked into splitting up the paragraghs a tad more though….

As the book opened, I began to imagine what must be one of the most awful serial killers, reminiscent of Jeffrey Dahmer (thinking eating body parts and storing in the freezer) or Hannibal.  Actually, more scary than Hannibal.  The protagonist, Chris Wilcox, is pursuing this evil killer due to the fact that his wife, Cheryl, was tortured, murdered, and eaten in the most vile way. Yes, I might have wanted to throw up and never eat from my freezer again! And since the murderer only kills women with red hair, I have made a note to myself to make sure my auburn highlights that appear time and again in my dark brown hair, NEVER appear again. And thankfully, I have dark pigment.

Moore sets the scene of the book quickly, drawing in the reader and giving us a glimpse into evil. Except then, we can’t look back. As a reader, I wasn’t going to put the book down till I knew what abominable force could do such acts. As I read, I was educated on DNA and sequencing and though, again, sometimes this can be boring for me, Moore actually wrote it in a way that wasn’t pretentious, but actually educated me and made me want to understand! Moore is one smart cookie and I wouldn’t be surprised if he is actually an undercover FBI agent, part-time NSA agent, and then moonlights as a genetic engineer. The main point here is that he seems authentic and it worked within the book. There were never loose ends that weren’t tied up or explained, so that my thought process never got ahead of the book.

His character development let us glimpse into their emotions and feel their pain for their lost loved ones, both for Chris losing Cheryl, and for the woman who becomes his side kick in their revenge hunting, who lost her sister. I found myself pulling for them and rejoicing in their blossoming affection for each other admist the drama.  His secondary characters have some great strength as well.

When we find out, as readers, that the villain is actually a creature that could be viewed as human, but is really ancient in origin, the book really gets interesting. I loved the mystery and the ebb and flow of his suspenseful scenes. Toward the middle he really slowed it down so that he could create some momentum to grab us again with action and horror. The end of the novel will be nothing like the start. I truly wish I could give away the gothic creepiness we find at the end of the book, but all I can say is it’s modern meets ancient. Just remember, other countries in the world are extremely old compared to the United States and we never know what lurks in the dark recesses of archaic times (especially when they have access to modern transportation and technology)!

Which reminds me, I am looking forward to much, much more from the dark recesses of Jonathan Moore’s mind. I bet he’s got some great story lines of murder and mayhem mixed-up with malicious monstrous intent! Moore’s creepy crime thriller, with some suspenseful twists and turns leading to the horrible, should be on your must read list next! Grab a stiff drink, your snuggie and socks, and tuck in tight with Redheads–it will a book you won’t soon forget! Especially if you have a nice head of red hair…..

Stay tuned for my exclusive interview with Jonathan Moore, coming soon!

Redheads, Synopsis~

RedheadsA killer far worse than insane.

Chris Wilcox has been searching for years, so he knows a few things about his wife’s killer. Cheryl Wilcox wasn’t the first. All the victims were redheads. All eaten alive and left within a mile of the ocean. The trail of death crosses the globe and spans decades.

The cold trail catches fire when Chris and two other survivors find a trace of the killer’s DNA. By hiring a cutting-edge lab to sequence it, they make a terrifying discovery. The killer is far more dangerous than they ever guessed. And now they’re being hunted by their own prey.

Author Jonathan Moore, Biography~

JMJonathan Moore and his wife, Maria Wang, live in Hawaii. When he’s not writing, or fixing his boat, Jonathan is an attorney.

Before completing law school in New Orleans, he was an English teacher, a whitewater raft guide on the Rio Grande, a counselor at a Texas wilderness camp for juvenile delinquents, and an investigator for a criminal defense attorney in Washington, D.C.

He has yet to put much info up about himself online!

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